Journalism School’s Sree Sreenivasan Named University’s Chief Digital Officer

Bridget O'Brian
July 11, 2012

Provost John Coatsworth has appointed Sree Sreenivasan as Columbia’s first Chief Digital Officer. A noted expert in new media and digital technology, he most recently was dean of student affairs at Columbia’s School of Journalism, where he helped establish the school as an early leader in digital media.

In his new post, Sreenivasan’s portfolio will cover a broad range of issues at the intersection of technology, education and digital media. His primary responsibility will be to lead the development of a University-wide strategy that makes the most effective use of Columbia’s academic and financial resources, incentivizes collaboration and adopts effective practices across schools, centers and academic departments in developing the University’s online curriculum.

"I am confident that Sree’s experience in academic administration and his widely respected expertise in new media technology make him uniquely well suited for this challenge," Coatsworth said. "Our goal is to ensure that we deploy new tools and technologies in interactive and distance learning to ensure the richest and most dynamic educational environment possible for Columbia’s students, as well as learners outside the University."

Several schools at Columbia already have innovative distance learning programs, including the School of Continuing Education, the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and the Journalism School. Columbia’s Center for New Media Teaching and Learning, which provides access to digital teaching tools and resources and helps instructors use information technology effectively, is also highly regarded in the field.

"We know that technology is having a profound impact on education as it has so many other parts of our society," said Columbia President Lee C. Bollinger. "While we believe that the personal, human experience of living in a community of diverse scholars and students pursuing knowledge and understanding will and should endure over time, new communications technologies can be helpful to that fundamental educational process and extend it to many other people who are curious to learn. Sree's appointment will help us realize the academic mission of the University by incorporating these powerful new technologies."

Sreenivasan has spent 20 years on Morningside Heights: one earning his M.S. at the Journalism School and another 19 as a professor, including seven as a dean. "It's an incredible honor to serve in this role at this moment in a University-wide role at Columbia," said Sreenivasan, who describes himself as a "tech evangelist and skeptic" on his Twitter feed. "We are in the center of the media world in a truly global city, we have a tradition of engagement with people and issues beyond our campus, and we have several online education models already up and running. I look forward to working with the rest of the campus and helping build upon what has already been done here."

As the Journalism School’s Dean of Student Affairs, Sreenivasan supervised admissions, student services and career services. All the while, he was an active member of the faculty, teaching in every part of the curriculum and becoming a leading expert in digital journalism and social media.

In recent years, he has increasingly partnered with many departments across campus, serving as a sounding board, guest speaker and informal consultant. He has been named to several lists of digital- and social-media professors to follow; "AdAge"'s 25 media people to follow on Twitter; and "Newsweek"'s list of the 20 most influential South Asians in America. He will remain a member of the Journalism School faculty.

"As much as any single person, he has been the keeper of the heart and soul of the Journalism School," wrote the journalism school’s Dean Nick Lemann in announcing Sreenivasan’s appointment. "In particular, he has been essential, beginning with his first days here, in bringing together the school and the digital revolution. He has been a superb evangelist for both causes, and has helped establish the school's international reputation for leadership in digital journalism."

Lemann named Ernest Sotomayor as the new Dean of Student Affairs. Since joining the journalism school seven years ago, Sotomayor has led the school’s successful career services office—a particular challenge given the fast-changing nature of the media business. Like Sreenivasan, he has also been a leader in developing the school’s online continuing education program.

Sotomayor had a distinguished career in newspaper journalism before joining Columbia, most recently at Newsday. He has also been one of the country's leading figures in promoting diversity in journalism, via his longtime activities in the National Association of Hispanic Journalists and in UNITY, of which he is a past president.